April 8, 2010

Review -- A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire


I was excited to get the chance to review Seanan McGuire's new Toby Daye novel, A Local Habitation. In A Local Habitation, we visit new fairy communities around San Francisco with October (Toby) Daye, changeling PI and knight errant in the service of Sylvester, Duke of Shadowed Hills. Toby is sent on a seemingly harmless errand to check on Sylvester's niece, Countess January O'Leary in her computer company and fiefdom in Fremont. As in the previous novel, a great part of the fascination of this novel is meeting new types of fairies and changelings and learning what their particular attributes are and how they have adopted to life between the mortal and fairy worlds. In this case, Toby is placed out of her comfort zone on the cutting edge of technological integration between fairy and computer networks.

Toby's world gives me the shivers as she's wandering down dark roads and flashes of delight as she tells stories about the creatures she's encountered. Following her down just one of those of dark roads makes for an exciting and entertaining read. Characters such as Tybalt, King of Cats, emerge from the story as suddenly familiar as something encountered long before, grown up for you in an unexpected way.

Toby's own marginal status allows her to be everywhere and to move deeply into the concerns of other characters while trying to keep to her own code. My only quibble is that the mystery seems to get short shrift. While Toby's ability to "read" the blood of the living and the dead (part of her heritage as half Daoine Sidhe) brings the story into a gut wrenching immediacy, she is often prevented by circumstance from fully investigating what has happened. This may be a question of the balance between action and detection--the action often receives priority, undercutting the impact of the mystery's solution.

I'm coming to realize that Toby Daye novels are clear-the-calendar books, since once I get started I'm hooked until the end. I would highly recommend that readers interested in urban fairy tales pick up A Local Habitation.

Good reading,
Chrissa

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